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The Script Polish: How to Maximize Your Screenplay’s Impact and Minimize Risk of Rejection

Polishing a screenplay, or doing a polish on a script, is a part of the screenwriting process that few screenwriters ever go into detail about when asked. Even when plied with liquor. Sure, we’ve all heard writers and producers use terms like “tighten it up” or “give it some polish” or “tweak it for production,” but what do any of those terms really mean?

Let’s break “the script polish” process down into two general goals a screenwriter needs to focus on when sitting down to polish her script. Those two general goals are maximizing impact and minimizing risk.

Aug 30
0
How to Write an Antagonist That Everyone Loves — And Why You Should

Not many people like antagonists. The antagonists are supposed to be antagonizing — that’s their whole purpose. They are designed to aggravate the protagonists; to foil the plans of the heroes and create conflict. They are supposed to be a villain for our heroes to defeat, right?

Sure. But what if they could be more?

Aug 23
0
How to Get the Most From Writing Advice

I subscribe to several writing web and blog sites. I trust them to give me sound writing advice. But sometimes the sheer volume of advice engulfs me, and I feel like I’m in the middle of a tidal wave.

Being overwhelmed can lead to creative paralysis. I work myself into a frenzy trying to apply everything to all my writing right now. Or, I close the computer or put down my pen and count the leaves on my philodendron plant. Neither approach is helpful.

With so much useful writing advice, how do you know where to start?

Aug 2
0
Need Help to Focus on Writing? Try This Tip From Ray Bradbury

Do you sit down to write and it seems like a million thoughts are dancing in your head? You know, they’re just there having a loud obnoxious party. With all those bouncing thoughts, it’s hard to focus on writing. To combat those mental distractions, try a daily writing habit of Ray Bradbury’s.

Jul 26
0
How to Win the Readers’ Choice Award: 5 Strategic Things One Winner Did

“I published a book, didn’t tell a soul about it, and it became a best seller!!” Said no writer ever.

But we wish it were true, don’t we? We want to hole up and write epic tales and thought-provoking prose, not hock books door to door and shout from the rooftops about how awesome we are. Can’t we just write? Well … write, but also be discovered and then catapulted to great heights by someone else.

We’d like readers to find us that way, please. We don’t want to navigate those scary waters of how to market a book.

Apr 26
0
How to Write a Scene: 3 Theater Techniques to Make Your Story Jump Off the Page

It’s time to write that scene. You know, the one you’ve been avoiding. You’ve sketched out your character and the scene’s objective, but how do you get your character from point A to point B? What exact words should he use? What specific actions should she take to accomplish her scene goal?

If you’ve ever faced that blank page with these questions in mind, you’ll be pleased to learn about three techniques, borrowed from the actor’s playbook, that will boost your writing and make your story shine. Let’s take a look at how to write a scene with the mindset of an actor.

Apr 24
0
Kill Perfectionism With This One Practice

It can feel impossible to know where to start writing. We can become paralyzed by fear, worrying our words will offend or bore readers, or worse, that we’ll never have any readers at all. In order to move past these feelings, we have to overcome perfectionism.

That’s easier said than done, but these three strategies make all the difference.

Feb 1
35
Healing From Shame: How to Overcome the Insidious Cause of Writer’s Block

Every time we sit down to write, our mood and state of mind affect our words. We infuse, to some extent, everything we write with our unique “voice.” Our emotions come through on the page.

When we’re struggling to eke out even a few words and make sense of our writing, it shows in our work. Our characters are flat. Our scenes are dull and passive. Our plot is thin and weak. Nothing we try fixes the problems. Or, maybe words don’t come at all.

We may declare that we have a case of writer’s block, particularly if we’ve wrestled with the vexation for weeks or months. But, there may be a stronger and more insidious obstacle: shame.

Jan 25
16
How to Use Big Words Without Making a Fool of Yourself

Have you ever used a word for years — like, maybe during your thesis defense or in a high-profile report for work — then realized one day that you had it totally wrong? That big word you thought was making you look so erudite was, in fact, working against you. Turns out, coif is not the same as coiffure, and you never even realized it.

No one is immune from this, neither journalists nor poets, essayists nor novelists. The problem often stems from our natural inclination as writers to grab hold of an exciting new word and just run with it. Not only do we end up using words just plain wrong, our enthusiasm leads to overuse as well.

By slowing down just a little bit, recognizing common pitfalls, and inserting some deliberate practice into your vocabulary usage, you can turn this trend around.

Sept 28
7
Premade Book Covers: The Secret to Amazing Covers

When self-publishing a book, every author is faced with the dilemma of creating a book cover that is worthy of their writing.

But most of us don’t have the money to hire a top-notch book design professional, or the tools and skills to create one ourselves. However, there is another way that many authors are finding is much cheaper and will guarantee your satisfaction: Premade book covers.

Sept 14
64
How to Empower Your Writing With a Brilliant Epigraph

The epigraph is simply a well-chosen quotation, set at the beginning of a text. Epigraphs can open essays, books, chapters of a book, or even each story in a book—any writing, really, which suggests its theme.

They can, however, do so much more.

After a short primer, just to get us on the same page with a working understanding of the epigraph, and a little confessional angst, you will have a couple of practice challenges to engage your new friends.

Aug 31
22
Character Voice: How to Actually Listen to Your Protagonist

Anyone who has dipped their toes into the world of writing novels knows how crucial character development is to telling strong stories. Plot, setting, and dialogue are necessary building blocks of fiction, but your characters are the foundation that your story is resting on—without dynamic characters, no amount of plot twists, fantastical settings, or authentic dialogue will magically transform into a novel that people want to read.

If the success of your novel is in fact riding on the strength of your characters, you need to know who they are, inside and out. More importantly, you need a character with a strong voice, one that can reveal the emotional depths of your story to the reader.

Aug 3
23
Prince or Pauper? The Pros and Cons of Making Your Hero a Noble vs. Common Stock

Every author has had to tackle following question at some point, whether it be Shakespeare or J.K. Rowling: Are the heroes of my tale going to be of common stock or noble heritage? Will I create a lower class or upper class character? It has been a heated topic of debate since long before the Brothers Grimm ever picked up a pen, and it’s a debate that continues on to this day.

Jul 13
8
What’s Really Keeping You from Writing?

I consider myself a writer. But there are a lot of days on which I don’t write anything more than a post on Facebook. Then there are days where I spend hours pecking away at the keyboard. But overall, I would love to write more, not less.

We all know some writers who are really disciplined. For example, Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day every day without fail. Why can’t I do this? What’s keeping me from writing? What’s keeping you from writing more?

Jul 6
37
Are You Neglecting Your Work In Progress?

We hear voices in our heads in the middle of the night. We see scenes in our minds like movies and are compelled to capture them on the page. We look around at the world and notice things, things other people might not see. Writing procrastination—well, that’s just not in our vocabulary.

We are lovers of stories. We gasp at expertly crafted sentences. We smile at innovative turns of phrase. We’re left breathless at the fierce beauty of a story well told.

We are writers. And writers write, right?

Well…

May 25
23
Why Dynamic Characters Don’t Need to Change

The most crushing piece of criticism authors can hear is that their main character is “flat” or “two-dimensional.” This is especially true for writers who have poured a lot of their personal experience into their protagonist’s journey. Conventional writing wisdom tells us that main characters need to be “dynamic” characters who evolve over the course of the story.

But what exactly does “dynamic” mean? If your protagonist doesn’t actually change all that much, does that make them flat and static? Are they, by default, a poorly written character?

May 4
15
3 Secrets Great Writers Know About Experimental Fiction

Nobody wants their writing to be described as “conventional” or “formulaic,” and in an effort to avoid such damning judgements, many young writers throw themselves past creative writing guides, the rules of writing, and all the catalogues of conventional wisdom, instead opting to carve their own path.

But before you follow suit and bend all the rules to write experimental fiction, there are a few things you need to know.

Apr 27
17
3 Common Mistakes Writers Make (And How to Avoid Them)

Writers are a funny bunch. On one point, we are driven and self-aware, capable of exercising massive amounts of discipline when we need to focus on the task at hand. Yet at other times, we’re distracted, self-critical, and destructive.

Part of the doubt writers face comes up because the creative process isn’t an easy thing to experience. It’s incredibly difficult to create something out of nothing day in and day out.

But when you can identify these critical mistakes writers make, you’ll be ready to overcome your doubts and challenges and actually finish your writing projects.

Apr 13
71
How to Inject Drama Into Your Writing to Show, Don’t Tell

You’ve probably heard the age-old adage of “show, don’t tell” at least a thousand times in your writing career so far. It’s arguably one of the most-used writing tips about. Why then, is it also the one mistake most writers make over all others?

I heard “show, don’t tell” so many times, it became a useless mantra to chant, rather than put into action. I had no idea that by ignoring it, I was actually writing flat, monotonous narrative.

So, what does it mean to show and not tell? Well—it all comes down to drama.

Apr 6
59
How Free Writing Helps You Find Your True Creative Voice

If you’re someone who writes regularly—even more so if you write for others as well as your own platform—the demands can easily take their toll, right? You find yourself writing to formula, and if you’re not careful the demands of writing can become a deafening cacophony of noise in your head.

Fortunately, a simple writing exercise might be just the thing to need to jumpstart your creativity and help you rediscover your creative voice.

Mar 30
66